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Germany's SPD denies agreeing coalition talks with Angela Merkel

04 December 2017

A visibly irritated Social Democratic chairman Martin Schulz took to the podium in Berlin on Friday to deny that his party was ready to officially begin talks with conservatives toward forming a new grand coalition government.

Schulz, Merkel and CSU leader Horst Seehofer on Thursday night held a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is trying his best to make Germany avoid snap elections - an occurrence if no new government can be formed.

"Regarding the formation of a new government, there was broad support for not ruling any option out", SPD leader Martin Schulz said after party board discussions in Berlin.

In a Facebook Live appearance, Schulz mentioned other possible options for the next government, including a minority administration and a coalition that would include the conservatives, the SPD and the Greens.

In a sign of the ongoing friction between Schulz and Merkel's bloc that may make negotiations hard, he blamed the Bild report on a leak from her side and said he had telephoned her Friday to say it was "unacceptable". He had called the chancellor to complain about "inacceptable" leaks to the press, the Social Democrat leader said.

Noting that his party and Merkel's bloc continue to govern as a caretaker government, he said "we have no time pressure" and would "not rule out any options".

Merkel told the party conference that she wants to "come quickly to a government", adding that Germany must have a stable government, "but also a government that really advances the country".

"I can clearly deny the media report about me having given the green light for grand coalition negotiations".

Ahead of that congress, which will also decide whether to re-elect Schulz as chief of the SPD, the party's top brass has been careful to tread softly regarding its options.

"We remain clear: the SPD's rejection of a continued grand coalition was mandatory and right", says the petition.

"Giving Emmanuel Macron a positive answer will be a key element in every negotiation with the SPD", Schulz was quoted as saying in the interview made available on Friday, adding that he also backed a joint European Union tax policy.

Germany's SPD denies agreeing coalition talks with Angela Merkel